It is not uncommon for people to report that after they take the amino acids they get very tired or sleepy and may even need to take a nap for 15-60 minutes. This fatigue may last all day in some cases. Obviously, this situation needs to change, but the solution may surprise you.

There aren’t many side effects when amino acid therapy is administered correctly. Most of the time, any side effects that do occur are the result of imbalances in neurotransmitter levels that are easily corrected.

On occasion, after a person has started amino acid therapy, they will report that within 20-30 minutes of taking their recommended dose, they become very tired or sleepy. Often this fatigue is transient, lasting only 10-20 minutes before passing, but in some cases, the fatigue can be so intense that the person feels the need to lie down and take a short nap. Almost always, after a 20-60 minute nap, the person will awaken feeling refreshed. There are two general reasons for fatigue after taking the amino acids; determining which one is the cause is important because the solution is different in each case.

Whenever someone experiences significant fatigue after taking each dose of amino acids, the first thing that needs to be done is a thorough health history in order to determine if the cause of the fatigue is an imbalance in the amino acid dosing or if the person is suffering from a sleep dept that needs to be repaid.

Hypersomnolence and Sleep Debt

If a person is experiencing dramatic fatigue after taking each dose of amino acids (i.e, having a hard time staying awake or needing a nap), it is likely that they have suffered from poor quality sleep for a long while prior to initiating amino acid therapy. This should be apparent in a person’s health history. This accumulated “sleep debt” must be repaid prior to feeling optimal again.

The key here is a thorough health history. Some people with chronically poor-quality sleep think that not sleeping well is ‘normal’ and won’t divulge an issue with sleep upon general questioning. This is where specific questioning can save a lot of time and frustration. For instance, asking what time they go to bed, what time they go to sleep, when they wake up in the morning, if they sleep through the night, how many times they awaken during the night, if they return to sleep easily if/after they awaken and if they feel rested upon waking will tell you whether past sleep issues are the cause of their current fatigue after taking amino acids.

In cases of very poor sleep quality prior to amino acid therapy (i.e., 3-4 hours/night), it is often necessary to stop the amino acids during the work-week (or when they need to function) and restarting them Friday-Sunday (assuming the person has the weekend off) while instructing the person to sleep as much as possible through the weekend (or time off) while taking the amino acids. We have seen cases where this procedure had to be undertaken for 6-9 months or longer before the person had repaid enough of their sleep debt in order to allow them to take the amino acids during the week and still function. Once they no longer feel extreme fatigue after taking the amino acids, they can resume taking them every day, using testing to determine if adjustments are necessary for neurotransmitter optimization.

Hypersomnolence and Neurotransmitter Imbalance

If the health history does not indicate a significant sleep debt prior to initiating amino acid therapy, it is likely that an imbalance between serotonin and the catecholamines (i.e., dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine) is the culprit. In these cases, it is advisable to cut the amino acid dosing in half and obtain a urine test in order to determine the proper level of amino acids that is needed to restore proper neurotransmitter balance.

Excessive fatigue after taking amino acids has a cause; a thorough healthy history will generally be all that is needed to pinpoint what the cause is. Adjusting the amino acid timing and testing can then be used to determine how to modify the amino acid dosing to not only eliminate the fatigue, but optimize neurotransmitter function.